Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Diego Luna, Jenna Dewan and Luke Wilson star in intertwining stories in the anthology film “Berlin, I Love You.”
Famous names and intertwining short stories – 10 of them, to be specific – abound in the anthology movie “Berlin, I Love You” (in theaters and on digital platforms Friday), the fourth in the city-centric themed franchise that’s also given us “Paris, Je T’aime,” “Rio, Eu Te Amo” and “New York, I Love You.” (Think “Fast & Furious” but with all the feels.)
Berlin and its complicated history obviously play a role throughout the movie, and like with “Love Actually,” romantic love is only one aspect that gets explored through its various chapters, connected through characters interacting with one another. (Also, for being set in Germany, there are way more Americans than you’d expect hanging out in this thing.)
For example, Keira Knightley plays a compassionate social worker who brings home a refugee boy (Liam Gross) for the night and leaves him in the care of her mom (Helen Mirren) in the story called “Under Your Feet.” And “Me Three” features a Laundromat full of women who break into sisterhood and song after telling off a sexist dude.
Some stories work, some really don’t, and some just kind of stop before they ever get going. (You can only do so much with 10 tales in two hours.) But for those who want to embrace the lovey-doviest stuff, here are the five most romantic “Berlin” tales.
‘Berlin Ride’ brings Jim Sturgess back from the brink.
Jim Sturgess plays a suicidal British man who’s lost his beloved to his best friend when he gets a car that happens to have an especially helpful female onboard assistant (voiced by Katja Riemann). Things get a little strange for him when the vehicle goes all “Knight Rider,” conversing with him and showing the beauty of the city around him – and inspiring him to give another look at a crazy neighbor (Charlotte Le Bon).
‘Berlin Dance’ comes alive with Jenna Dewan’s musical fantasy.
For those who like their dance numbers old school, this is for you: Jenna Dewan is a lost tourist who shares a passing glance with a street drummer (Nolan Funk) but a twilight walk finds her discovering a secret dance party with a swinging big band, sure-footed magic and another chance meeting.
‘Sunday Morning’ offers Diego Luna and a coming-of-age encounter.
Diego Luna plays a drag queen who meets a sexually curious boy (Michelangelo Fortuzzi) and they share a beer as well as a lesson about gender identity on his 16th birthday. There’s been backlash to Luna’s casting when the role could have gone to a LGBTQ actor, though he does a good job, adding a welcome vulnerability to a sweet moment.
‘Lucinda in Berlin’ adds Luke Wilson and puppets to the mix.
Dianna Agron of “Glee” fame directs her story, in which she plays a children’s entertainer in a park. Luke Wilson is a visiting filmmaker who happens upon the show one day and becomes instantly bemused by her, and a philosophical discussion is a setting for them to adorably feel each other out amid mutual attraction.
And ‘Transitions’ ties it all together nicely.
The through line of “Berlin” is the changing relationship between a German street artist (Robert Stadlober) and a musician (Rafaelle Cohen). After annoying each other at first, fate pulls them back together in interstitial scenes between the other stories, and their affection grows as they become each other’s muse. Of course, cue a climactic love song.
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